Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Happy Music

I'm pretty sure everyone knows about the Piano Guys by now, but this always makes me happy!

It also gives the Zoomlians ideas about where we should put a grand piano and what they could do with it...

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Rosary Project

 We have a  book that we love to use while praying  the Rosary It's an enormous three feet tall, and it features beautiful icon-like images for each decade and smaller, cartoon-like images for each Hail Mary (along with a scripture quote for each Hail Mary).  It's a beautiful, thoughtful, prayerful work that makes Rosary praying easy, even for distraction prone young kids (and parents).

If you aren't Catholic, the Rosary is a prayer in which you say decades (groups of 10 Hail Marys) while meditating on events in the life of Christ.  The Hail Marys are there to keep track of the length of the meditation, to involve your body in the prayer, and, originally, as a way for illiterate people to "say" all 150 psalms like the monks did.  But the heart of the prayer is the meditation, and the greatest difficulty is distraction, and that was what was so great about this book!

The problem?  They only made one book!  They started with the Joyful Mysteries and then... stopped!  It must not have sold well enough, and it must have been very expensive to produce. It's also out of print. :(

I've been griping about the lack for several years now, and it finally occurred to me that I could make something similar.

Lacking in the kind of talent which produced the first book, I turned to Google.  The kids and I googled the first Luminous Mystery, the Baptism of the Lord, and did an image search.  We picked out 12 diversely appealing images, then printed them and cut them out as 3 by 5s.

I then wrote out scripture verses on the backs of the cards.  I totally cheated on this one, using my scriptural Rosary app.  Then I realized I could get the quotes on line, so, for the next batch, I printed them out and glue sticked the quotes to the backs of the pictures. Easy peasy!

I lay the cards on contact paper, then folded over the contact paper so the cards were laminated.  I cut these out, then punched a hole in one corner.  I unfolded a paper clip and used that as a ring to bind them together.

The reason I use 12 pictures is this: one is the cover, and on the back of that one, I write the fruit of the mystery and the words "Our Father."  This way, when you flip over the cover, you have your picture meditation for the Our Father.  The next flip gives you "1st Hail Mary (and the scripture quote)" across from the meditation picture for that Hail Mary.  The 12th picture (the 10th Hail Mary meditation picture) has the Glory Be on the back of it.

So far we've made The Baptism of the Lord and The Wedding at Cana, and I hope to do them all!


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Poem of the Week

Dawn is a Fisherman - by Raymond Barrow

Dawn is a fisherman, his harpoon of light
Poised for a throw - so swiftly morning comes:
The darkness squats upon the sleeping land
Like a flung cast-net, and the black shapes of boats
Lie hunched like nesting turtles
On the flat calm of the sea.

Among the trees the houses peep at the stars
Blinking farewell, and half-awakened birds
Hurtle across the vista, some in the distance
Giving their voice self-criticized auditions.

Warning comes from the cocks, their necks distended
Like city trumpeters: and suddenly
Between the straggling fences of gray cloud
The sun, a barefoot boy, strides briskly up
The curved beach of the sky, flinging his greetings
Warmly in all directions, laughingly saying
Up, up, the day is here! Another day is here!

HT: Poetry Free for All

Friday, April 26, 2013

Seven Quick Takes Friday

1. Mxyl is back!!! After nearly three weeks away in Japan, it is so great to have him (and Grammy) home again!!!

2. An actual conversation this past week:

Acquaintance: Oh!  You like science fiction and comic books!  Now your blog makes perfect sense!

                                                       Me: ???????

If you are still confused, I also like science, history, poetry, art, literature, gardening, math, and my kids.  Now does it make sense?  Maybe if you stand on your head...

3. It must be spring, the frogs are back!  And the trees are blooming.  So, even if it's in the 50s, it's spring.

So break out the cool sunglasses, already!

4.Speaking of blooming trees, we found this curious dog wood in the National Arboretum's dogwood garden.  The bracts arch up and over each blossom like a bower - a fascinating and lovely effect!  The dogwood garden is one of my favorites, not just because you can catch frogs in the fountain, but because it feels like a Jane Austen novel.  One with frogs.

5. Coolest science experiment ever!  You can dissolve a ridiculous amount of sodium acetate in a small quantity of water, simply by heating the water.  As the solution cools, it looks like plain water.  But, dropping one tiny crystal in causes the entire solution to bloom into solid crystal, releasing a great deal of heat.  So I guess it's not literally a cool experiment, but it's amazing!  Details on how to do the experiment and where to get sodium acetate here.

6. We now have the coolest yard on the block!  How do I know?  Because neighbors keep asking if they can come over to play.  The grown up neighbors.

We have two slack lines: the red one is parallel to the street, the yellow one is running from the deck to the tree, at a 90 degree angle to the red.
 We also have the play house and the badminton/ volleyball net up.  Everyone's happy except for the grass around the net, but, as the Emperor told me, it's better to have us in shape than the grass in shape.

7.  Have I mentioned how happy I am to have all my kids on one continent again?

It's been a good reminder to me to enjoy this time with all my kids under one roof! 

For those of you still living in Babyville, yeah, it does go fast.

More fun with Jen

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Kids' Chemistry: Heat

  We've been discussing heat from the very beginning, so the kids knew that heat was energy, and that heat energy was expressed in the movement of molecules.  You've got to love it when the kindergarteners can tell you that molecules move faster when they are hotter, and slower when they are colder.  They get it!

Anyway, they also remembered that heat caused an increase in reaction rates: it sped up the dissolution of the bouillon cubes, and it sped up diffusion.

 I also wanted them to see that heat affects density in liquids and gases.  I used 2 wide mouthed quart jars, and two little (8oz) soda bottles.

I put ice water in one little bottle and tinted it dark blue, then sealed it with foil and a rubber band.  I filled the quart jar with hot (tap water, not boiling hot) water. Then I pierced the foil with a pencil tip and dropped a few drops of the cold blue water into the hot clear water.

The cold water fell quickly.

This is the basis of certain ocean currents.  In real life, water density based on temperature moves millions, if not billions of tons of water!

Next I filled the other bottle with hot water, dyed red, and sealed it with foil and a rubber band.

I placed the sealed bottle into the wide mouthed jar, then filled the rest of the jar with cold water (strained ice water).

Next I pierced the foil on the hot water with a pencil tip.

The red water rose to the top, looking very much like a volcano!

 We moved on to gases.  Before class, I had placed an empty, uncapped soda bottle in the freezer.  Now I took it out and capped it with a quarter.

Theoretically, as the air in the bottle warmed and expanded, the coin would clatter and move.

Actually, the bottle got knocked over (twice!) and was filled with room temperature air.  So, your mileage may vary! 

Since the bottle was full of warm air, I reversed the experiment by capping the bottle (with, you know, the bottle cap) and stuck that in the freezer.  By the end of the class it was cold enough to shrivel the bottle.  The kids asked what would happen if we left it in all week, so we left it there, plus added a bottle of water.

Next up, we looked at how light was absorbed and converted into heat.  I had a (florescent) light bulb shining on black and white paper.  Theoretically, I would have had a thermometer under each sheet of paper, but a surface reading thermometer was more fun if you have one!

The black paper was two degrees warmer than the white.

 Lastly, we looked at heat absorbed and released in chemical reactions.

I stuffed a jar with fine grade steel wool, then poured in some vinegar.  I sealed it with a double layer of foil, then put a cooking thermometer through the foil into the center of the steel wool.

Over the course of 10 minutes, the temperature went up about 2 degrees- rust really is burning in slow motion!

 Then I dissolved half a cup of non chlorine bleach (Oxyclean) in water.  I had everyone touch the jar before we started so that they could feel that the water was room temperature.

Naturally, everyone wanted to stir!

I didn't use a thermometer on this one, but the kids all could feel the jar growing warmer.

For my piece de resistance, I did "hot ice."  This is sodium acetate, the stuff used in hand warmers.  It's reasonably non toxic, and available on Amazon

You need 160 grams of sodium acetate (which is the amount in the beaker) dissolved in only 30ml of water (which is the amount in the graduated cylinder).  It looks like a ridiculous proportion of solid to liquid - and it is!

But this is a case where a relatively low saturation point is very affected by temperature.

 If you heat the mixture in a boiling water bath, the entire amount will go into solution, and it will stay in solution as mixture cools.  This is called a super saturated solution.

And it only takes one tiny sodium acetate crystal (or even a hard tap on the side of the jar) to cause the sodium acetate to fall out of solution.

It instantly blooms into beautiful crystals and releases all that stored up heat you used to coax it into solution.

The best part is that you can put those crystals  (now a solid block with no visible water) back into solution by adding more heat, so your sodium acetate is completely reusable!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Marching Through Time: The Other Stuff

 A few high lights from the rest of the stuff we saw at about Marching Through Time:

A Nazi officer explaining the antipersonnel mine called the "bouncing betty."  When activated, it would pop up out of the ground to about head height and spray shrapnel over 100 yards.

A WWI "tommy" (British soldier) wearing an early gas mask.  You breathed in through the chemically treated fabric of the mask, and out through the one way valve under the "tongue."

That re-enactor was fabulous!  He told us that he had been careful to get a  mask had not been used in the war, because a re-enactor had recently suffered burns to his face from trying on a gas mask that had seen actual use.  More than 70 years later, the mustard gas residue on the mask was still active!
 A first century Roman centurion threatening Leena!

Actually,  she escaped.

Several centuries later, she and Zorg drew an English long bow from the War of the Roses.

 The War of the Roses was fun for everyone (of us, not sure how great it was to live through)!

Zorg, Choclo and Oob tried on a variety of helmets.

Klenda tried out a gauntlet, then pondered world domination. 

Mxyl was tied up in Japan, so somebody had to do it!

 Then Klenda and Leena went off with the medieval dancers.  Here they are doing a tangle dance - very fun!

Later, we all joined in on one of the circle dances that starts slow and goes faster and faster.  Choclo and Oob collapsed in giggle fits at the end and wanted to do it again and again!

 There was a large encampment of ... Hessians?  Mmmm... 1600s where Germany would eventually be...  Wonderful two handed swords with wavy blades (zwiehanders and flamberges, what does it say about me that I can remember the swords but not the group?).  Very cool, fancier armor than the War of the Roses and stylish slashed sleeves and feathered hats. Anyone know?

We also went through a ship from 1812, looked over the privateers and were heading home when...

Someone (from the Napoleonic wars) asked if we would help him load his cannon.

How can you say no to that?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Change of Pace

After weather in the 80s all week, we had a violent storm blow through, leaving us with highs in the 50s.  The storm was expected, but it wasn't til 15 minutes before the storm started that I realized the wind and rain would wipe out most of our tulips!

I suggested that the kids pick the tulips from their gardens, and we quickly had a house filled with flowers!
 The white tulips were from Oob's garden.

The orange and yellow were from Choclo's.

The multi colored bunch are from Zorg.

The pink stripey ones are mine.

The big bunch of dandelions were a gift from Choclo!  I've always thought that if dandelions were hard to grow, they'd be expensive.  They are a lovely flower with intricate leaves and an interesting seed head - and edible, to boot!

 Klenda came up with this stunning arrangement using tulips and double daffodils from her garden, augmented with some extra white tulips from Oob (Oob planted tons of tulips).

I like the way she incorporated leaves into her design.  She has a definite flair for art!
These purple ones are from my cutting garden.  They were just opening, so they probably could have weathered the storm, but purple is the Emperor's favorite color.  I tucked in a bit of white lilac for fragrance.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Big in Japan

Mxyl  saw this guy perform live on the streets of Kyoto by a few days ago- amazing!

Marching Through Time: Vietnam

 I may be a history geek, but Marching Through Time makes me want to "squee" like a teenage girl.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.

It's the answer to: "What if you could get all the historical re-enactors together in the same place... then arrange them chronologically?" SQUEE!!

Anyway, every year we start at the beginning and never make it to the end. So, this year, we started at the end and went backwards!   That first picture is the Zoomlians manning a machine gun nest from the Vietnam conflict.

And we have Klenda and Zorg working on a Claymore mine.

 Oob with a rifle!  He and the rest of the Zoomlians are in front of a MUTT.

Choclo with grenades!

It was fascinating for me because I grew up with all this stuff.  Not only was my Dad a bomb guy in Vietnam, but I grew up on a military base and had a lot of this stuff around the house.  I'm pretty sure my Dad still has that crook shaped army green flashlight!  But the strangest experience, by far, was stepping into the tents from that era and recognizing the smell!!!  It was kind of disorienting, especially because the re-enactor could have stepped off one of my Dad's slides.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Poem of the Week

Best read aloud by candlelight..

The night is darkening round me

By Emily Brontë
The night is darkening round me,
The wild winds coldly blow;
But a tyrant spell has bound me,
And I cannot, cannot go.

The giant trees are bending
Their bare boughs weighed with snow;
The storm is fast descending,
And yet I cannot go.

Clouds beyond clouds above me,
Wastes beyond wastes below;
But nothing drear can move me;
I will not, cannot go. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Shark Tooth Expedition

 This was amazingly fun!  I had put out a call to all the homeschoolers that we were headed down to the Bay, but had gotten only one response.

So I was delighted when, after we had been there a little while, two more families showed up.  So, 4 families, 19 kids!

We also had along a friend who was studying home schoolers.  He got a broad perspective talking to all of us, plus he found the largest and best preserved seven gill cow shark tooth I've ever seen.  The big megalodon tooth eluded him, but, as I told him, if he found one of those his first time out after all the time we've been (unsuccessfully) looking, he was walking home!

Our family found over a hundred fossil shark teeth, not counting ray plates, bone fragments(from dolphins and whales), and a tail barb (which was a first for us)!

Actually, everyone found tons of teeth, despite this being the first trip for many - really it was the perfect day!

Except that I miscalculated the time and we stayed 3 1/2 hours...which would have been fine if I had used sun screen...  The longest we've stayed before this was 2 hours, and I thought it had been 2 1/2.

Fortunately the sunburns weren't too bad (except, strangely, the tops of my feet).  I usually try to give the kids moderate sun exposure starting in the weak sun of April so that they have some sun tolerance by the time we get to summer (and therefore it's not a disaster if they get some sun), but this time was an oops.

But, other than that it was a perfect day!

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Miocene Seas at Our House

In the Miocene era (25 million years ago), the Chesapeake Bay covered where our house is, going all the way up to DC.  Since were headed out on a fossil shark tooth expedition later in the week, I thought it would be fun to do a mural of what was here back then.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

When Catholic Memes Crosses Over With Our Study of the Bayeux Tapestry

Hic Darcus Vadorus – This is Darth Vader.
Luxgladium tenet – Holding a lightsaber.
“Non. Ego sum pater tuus.” – “No. I am your father.”
Hic Lucius Cæliambulus – This is Luke Skywalker.
“Imo. Non est verus.” – “No. It’s not true.

From Catholic Memes, of course!

Easter Art: Tree of Life

Easter is 50 days, and we are only 3 weeks in!

I got the idea for this week's art project from  Deep Space Sparkle , who did an interesting take on Klimt's Tree of Life.  The original picture from Klimt is the one on the left.  Her take is on the right.

I thought it looked interesting, but I couldn't shake the association with the song that starts, "Tree of life and awesome mystery..."

In the song, the tree of life is the cross- what a great Easter project!

Here's what we did:

 Klenda's design incorporated hearts and birds.

Zorg's tree wrapped vine-like around the cross and ended up looking like a monstrance.

Leena's had a rose to represent the blood of Jesus, and a blue flower to represent the waters of baptism.

Choclo painted a sweet (but unrelated) "I love you". His heart looks like an actual heart!

And Oob painted this.  A bit more Picasso than Klimt!